Spain’s Modern Day Robin Hood

Come Back: A Story We Wrote Together

Radi.ms (2014)

Film Review

Come Back describes how a coalition of Spanish activists used 492,000 euros expropriated from 39 banks to build a large anti-capitalist coalition that would form the basis for the Los Indignados occupation in 2011. The latter would inspire the international Occupy movement in September and October 2011.

Enric Duran, the individual responsible for the 492,000 euros in unpaid bank and credit card loans, first began planning his “financial civil disobedience” in 2002. The funds were used to finance a network of anarchist collectives and cooperatives which coalesced as the Catalan Integral Cooperative (CIC) in 2010. The CIC’s objective is to generate a self-managed free society outside the law, state control and the rules of the capitalist market. Over the past five years, the CIC has allowed member collectives to progressively construct practices that move them away from the capitalist system towards the world they want to live in.

Creating the Finance Network for Social Projects

In 2005, when Duran began his aggressively borrowing, he and others formed the Finance Network for Social Projects, which allowed self-organized collectives to bid for funding for their local projects through a centralized website. One project highlighted in the film was the 2006 Anti-Growth March. More a tour than a march, the project traveled to more than 20 communities throughout Spain, promoting the development local farming cooperatives, self-organized clinics and schools and other alternatives to capitalism.

The direct outcome of the Anti-Growth March was the Cooperative for Local Assemblies, a network linking local initiatives. In 2010, this would morph into the CIC.

The latter, involving roughly four to five thousand participants, is made up of 300 productive projects, 30 local nodes and econetworks, 15 or so communal living projects and 1700 collectives. CIC governance involves general assemblies and is based on a decentralized direct democracy model that supports the self-governance of autonomous projects.

Political Goals of CIC

Rather than trying to destroy the state, the goal of the CIC is to practice civil disobedience in ways that are consistent with the self-organizing projects their collectives are trying to build. According to a 2014 interview with Duran (see Spanish Robin Hood Enric Duran on Capitalism and Integral Revolution), any action they take towards pressuring the state will be strategically chosen to protect constructive projects and the people involved in them or to generate consciousness and vision among people and groups involved in the change-making process.

Some examples of CIC projects include

• Development and promotion of approximately twenty community currencies, in addition to the Local Exchange Trading System (LETS), a mutual credit network that operates on South African CES software.
• Local food pantries linked to the Catalan Provisioning Centre.
• Activist-run health clinics, schools and housing cooperatives.
• Radi.ms, a digital collective focused on promoting the creation of self-organized co-ops worldwide.

Duran’s Legal Status

On September 17, 2008, in the midst of the global banking collapse, the network (which would become the CIC in 2010), made public, through their own CRISIS newspaper, that Duran had distributed 492,000 in bank loans to Spanish anti-capitalist groups. In March 2009, he was arrested, as six of the 39 banks had laid charges against him. He spent two months in prison before being released on 50,000 euros bail. Although he gone underground, he continues to be an active participant in the CIC.

5 thoughts on “Spain’s Modern Day Robin Hood

  1. Nice! An inspired and inspiring beginning. Not the first and not the last, of course. Many more such beginnings will have to be repeated and reinvented if real and substantive change is ever to be brought about. The first step must be and will always be to alter people’s awareness of what it is that they live under and, by example’s similar to Enric’s ingenious expropriation, to demonstrate that ‘we’ can and must defy the system if only to make life possible for ourselves.

    Yes, I agree: “[r]ather than try to destroy the state, . . . practice civil disobedience in ways that are consistent with the self-organizing projects . . . collectives are trying to build.” At least in the interim, because ‘self-organizing’ collectives need to ‘learn themselves’ into being, so to speak, and at the same time ‘create’ the social environments these collectives need in order to subsist. Nothing will ever happen without this kind of stirring audacity.

    However, I fear that eventual and multiple confrontations with the state will be unavoidable because the state is in the last analysis the concentrated, entrenched might of ‘capital, the military, and the clergy.’ These institutions and their representatives, given their long history of adept violence and deception, of ruling by whatever means without compunction, will not gracefully bow out before mass aspirations to genuine self-rule.

    But just as the knack for ‘self-organizing’ must emerge over time on the basis of fitful starts, the dismantling of the state will likewise happen gradually and in a piecemeal fashion, and most probably will involve many instances of violent confrontation.

    The revolution will happen — if it happens — over a protracted period of time. We will have to be audacious like Enric, but repeatedly, patiently, persistently. It can happen. But it won’t and can’t happen all at once. The cultural, psychological and institutional inertias confronting us simply — at least to mind — exclude that possibility.

    Not in our lifetimes will the prize be won. But if we begin the work in earnest and steadfastly . . . If the Duran’s among us multiply, we have a real shot at this . . .

    Like

  2. Based on his interview, I suspect that Duran’s also anticipates that the corporate state will try to use violence to shut down any projects that genuinely increase the power of ordinary people. I find his wording (about pressuring the state) “to protect constructive projects and the people involved in them” illuminating. Gelderloos adopts a similar position in The Failure of Nonviolence, a basic primer of successful anarchist actions: http://stuartjeannebramhall.com/2014/02/28/the-failure-of-nonviolence/ The primary goal of activism is to create space for self-organized projects, but you must be willing to use violence to protect them.

    I think the hardest step in organizing for revolution is preparing people for self-organizing. Most have very little experience running their own lives and are more comfortable looking to authority to do it for them.

    Liked by 1 person

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